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Byron Shire
October 16, 2021

Large shark spotted by chopper crew off Byron after fatal attack

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Photo Tao Jones
Police at the scene of the fatal shark attack at Byron Bay’s main beach this morning. Photo Tao Jones

[Updated 5.10pm)

Crew from the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter this afternoon spotted a three-metre shark near the Byron Bay Surf Club close to the shore break where a local man was attacked this morning.

The helicopter crew then directed local lifeguards on jet skis to the area where it conducted a number of low level passes to direct the shark to open water.

The chopper crew also helped police and rescue volunteers in water craft search for any sharks along the town’s beach front.

The National parks and Wildlife Service were notified of the sighting.

Byron Bay lifeguards on surf skis managed to herd a shark out to sea this afternoon after a man died in a shark attack at Clarke’s Beach earlier today. Photo supplied

[Updated 3.30pm]

Police say the man killed in a shark attack at Byron Bay this morning was a local aged in his 50s.

His wife arrived at Clarkes Beach after he failed to meet at an agreed meeting place.

The man was in the water around 10.45am when he was bitten on the right leg  

He was seen floating in shallow water, close to the shore line, and dragged onto the beach by onlookers.

The shark is now believed to be a white pointer.

Photo Tao Jones
Police at the scene with the man’s body. Photo Tao Jones

An ambulance was called and he was pronounced dead a short time later.

The man was earlier today formally identified by a family member. Police confirmed he was a long-time Byron Bay resident.

Inspector Bobbie Cullen told media at the beach the man’s name would not be released till other relatives had been contacted.

Photo Tao Jones
Byron Bay’s main beach was closed after the fatal shark attack. Photo Tao Jones

Officers from Marine Area Command were looking for the shark in a bid to scare it out of the area.

[Earlier report]

A man has died after being attacked by a shark at Byron Bay just over this morning (Tuesday).

A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman told media the man, believed to be in his 40s, died on Clarkes Beach just after 11am.

Fairfax Media reported that witnesss called triple-0 at 10.40am to say that a man had been bitten by a shark at the southern end of the beach, off Lawson Street.

The NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said a doctor performed CPR on the man, but he could not be saved. He was pronounced dead on the beach.

It is understood the man was found floating in the water with a serious injury to his leg and onlookers dragged him back to the beach.

The Westpac rescue helicopter was at the scene at the time of this report (11.45am).

A NSW Police spokeswoman told Fairfax Media that a number of officers were also at the beach, describing the incident as a ‘possible shark attack’, but did not elaborate further.

A paddle-board rider told APN Media that he saw what he thought was a turtle and some seaweed in the water about 20 metres from where he was paddling and a shark about two metres long circling it, so he quickly returned to the beach.

At the beach, an onlooker suggested it was a person and the paddleboarder walked back into the water and dragged the body to shore.

Police have closed the beach.

A report is being prepared for the Coroner.

* This story was updated to reflect that the wife of Mr Wilcox was not on the beach at the time of the attack, something which was incorrectly quoted in all other media reports.

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  1. After the last shark attack there out at the island about 12 years ago, I would never go near the water around Byron again. Time to get some shark nets down to placate the tourists.

  2. Sad as it is that a young man has died in the surf, netting is not the solution. Nets maim, capture or kill dolphins, whales, turtles, fish as well as sharks. No blame of the ocean wildlife.. sharks have been in the oceans for over 400 million years. We are the very recent newcomers .We are in wildlife territory every time we swim in the ocean. R.I.P.

  3. As horrific as this incidence is, nets are not the solution IMO. The number of fatal attacks (3) in Byron does not justify the use or ecological cost of nets. We all take chances out there, and having had a close call myself at the Cape, we know the risks. No need for a knee jerk reaction. Statistically I would guess it is far more dangerous to walk the streets of Byron at night on the weekends.

  4. “After the last shark attack there out at the island about 12 years ago, I would never go near the water around Byron again. Time to get some shark nets down to placate the tourists”.

    This is very sad indeed but it’s a really rare occurrence.

    Twelve years ago. More people have died in car accidents in this area in the past week.

  5. No Nets. White pointers sometimes come with the whales. Just be aware. And like it has been said above. Shark death is just terribly unlucky as swimming in the bay is safer than driving around it..

  6. I have been in the surf for years and this is a tragic thing to happen for any family but we choose go in the ocean and there are things in there that can kill us. How many people are killed by marine stingers, how many people drown – no one calls to cull stingers but today in Byron you could hear talk of the need to net beaches and cull sharks. I have been surfing since the 70’s – every time I enter the water I know the risks and that poor man today also would have known the risks – but I would imagine that he would not have wanted to cull sharks. We lost 4 young people locally in a vehicle accident last week – no one is calling to cull stupid young drivers .

    Our hearts should go out to this mans family – but we need to put this in perspective – that shark meant no malice – simply doing what comes naturally and we are in their domain. Please do not call for a cull like WA.

  7. Yes if lions attacked and killed people who have moved to free land in Africa we should just go and shoo them away and expect more human casualties. If they come too close then a culling is good for the area just like they control dangerous crocs coming in too close.

  8. That’s terrible somebody has died in the ocean, very sad for such a young man. However he May have had a heart attack and then his leg was removed by a shark opportunistically. The shark in the picture looks tiny. Better wait for the coroner’s decision.

  9. Leave the sharks alone, no nets, no culls, no nothing. People know the risks of going into the ocean where sharks live, we dont live there, sharks do.

    As said above more people die on the roads and it is alot more dangerous to walk around Byron town at night these days, there are much more pressing issues to worry about that a few shark attacks every decade or so. How many people use the ocean every day, it must be loads and loads and not much harm every happens.

    Yes it is very sad the guy died, but that is life. condolences to the guys family and friends.

    Please leave the sharks alone and no nets, they will just kill more ocean life.


  10. The ocean is a powerful, beautiful place, full of life- big and small. The ocean is why I live here, and I do not wish to swim in nets. The sharks have a right to live in their natural home. Swimming every day year round I have never seen a shark, although maybe one day I will. This is life. I would rather swim and be happy, than live in fear.
    Love to the family


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